LIRR service cuts spark crowded train concerns; changes coming Tuesday
The Long Island Rail Road is adding additional trains Monday and Tuesday following a crowded commute stemming from reduced service that went into effect this week.
LIRR commuters sent photos to News 12 from their morning trips en masse -- showing riders forced to stand inches apart in cramped train cars.
Riders say day one of what the LIRR called a "rightsizing effort" did not fit them at all.
"How could this happen? All my friends' restaurants closed down, my friends' businesses closed down and here they are, the head of the LIRR is cutting service?" says Steve Berger, of Malverne.
According to the LIRR, reducing trains during peak time and bringing weekday service to almost weekend levels would allow the railroad to save $15 million in operating costs as it tries to recover from a massive drop in ridership caused by the pandemic.
But Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer says the money in the current stimulus bill for the LIRR should be enough to stave off drastic cuts.
"I have 14.5 billion reasons the LIRR service cuts make no sense," says Schumer. "So the MTA needs to go back, look at their decision, knowing that this bill just passed and there's billions more in federal relief that are in transit to the MTA."
Rep. Tom Suozzi also tweeted out pictures of overcrowding and a letter he sent to LIRR President Phil Eng asking to have the service cuts re-examined.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran tweeted that economic recovery requires more LIRR service, not less.
LIRR President Phil Eng says he's seen the posts and complaints, and is making changes.
Eng says the railroad was monitoring the situation in real-time to see how many people were boarding trains and in each car.
"One of the first trains we did see, and it was only an isolated trains that we actually had loading concerns," says Eng. "For instance was the 5 a.m. out of Ronkonkoma, going to Penn Station."
The LIRR announced it will add four Babylon branch trains and more Babylon branch stops to two trains from Speonk.
They will add a 5:08 a.m. local train from Babylon to Penn Station, a 5:54 a.m. train from Massapequa Park with all stops through Rockville Centre, Jamaica and Penn Station and a 6:40 a.m. train from Freeport, stopping at Baldwin, Rockville Centre, Jamaica and Penn Station.
The 4:20 a.m. westbound train from Speonk will add stops at Massapequa and Wantagh, while the 5:15 a.m. train from Speonk will add stops at Amityville and Wantagh.
The MTA also announced three westbound main line trains. A 4:20 a.m. train will depart Ronkonkoma, stopping at Farmingdale, Bethpage, Hicksville, Westbury, Carle Place, Mineola, Merillon Avenue, New Hyde Park, Floral Park, then Jamaica & Penn Station.
There will also be a 6:20 a.m. train from Farmingdale to Penn Station and a 6:35 a.m. train from Hicksville to Penn Station.
For afternoon additions, there will be a 5:10 p.m. local train from Penn Station to Babylon and a 3:39 p.m. train from Penn Station to Ronkonkoma.
But even with these latest changes, Berger says he's still not quite over what happened Monday morning. He says he's going to get a COVID-19 rapid test.